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Bibles burned as vandals repeatedly target Melbourne church

Case turned over to state attorney's office

MELBOURNE, Fla. – About 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Amy Rhodes arrived at Soul's Harbor Community Church to meet a friend for band practice, but as soon as she walked in, she noticed a gaping hole on the back wall.

“The scary moment came when I saw the hole and I still saw dust,” Rhodes said. “So, at that point, I was kind of worried that someone was still in here, because (I was) still seeing that it was a fresh hole (and) doors that were never opened were opened. That's when I was scared, because I was like, who knows who's in here?”

Not even 24 hours later, the church was broken into two more times.

Pastor Dale Rhodes said that around 11 a.m. Monday, the crooks broke in again, through the wall. That was just about two hours after the pastor and a locksmith had assessed the situation and were working to replace the locks.

The third instance came around 4 p.m. Monday. Rhodes said among the items stolen were guitars, wireless microphones, electronics, and even odd items such as bottles of water and a fire extinguisher.

"They left my saxophone sitting there, which was probably, besides the bass guitar, probably the most valuable item we had in there," Rhodes said. "(But) they took two cases of bottled water. One on the first visit and one on the second visit.”

Also stolen and burned were about half a dozen Bibles. They were later found in the woods behind the church.

"When you're burning Bibles, that's difficult for me, because you know, that's what we believe in,” Rhodes said. “That's where we stand. That's just maliciousness. That's where the hatefulness comes in.”

The Melbourne Police Department turned the case over to the state attorney's office for review. Officers said they want to make sure they have enough probable cause to make an arrest.

Because of an insurance miscommunication, the church isn't covered for the more than $13,000 in damages.

The church is trying to get results, and has started a GoFundMe page.